As a follow up to my social media post I thought I would post this article my good friend Carla forwarded to me. Parents need to read this, put down their phones and pick up social interactions with the kids. If we don't we are looking at an entire generation of kids who cannot communicate, read social cues or function interpersonally. Read, process and respond. Looking forward to any comments.
Does your child have a cell phone? If so what age did you buy if for him or her? Cell phone use is on the rise for younger and younger children and it's important to teach your kids how to use it, to use social media and that having a cell phone is a privilege not a necessity. 22% of teens log onto social networking sites more than 10 times daily and once this level of engagment rises their risk of cyberbullyng goes up. It is here that we can truly positively impact how our kids interact in the virtual world.
It is clear from many books and scholarly articles written on the subject that social networking can have postive benefits (increasing networks, reading and discovering new things), but overall our kids live in two different worlds.. the real one we know and the virtual world we may not. In your child's brain these two worlds are intertwined and cannot be disconnected even though you may not see it that way. It is here that we need to help our kids navigate the dangerous pitfalls of social media. If we are to let them have social media then its up to us to monitor them on these sites for morality, common sense, integrity and privacy.
The first decision is when to let your child have a cell phone. How old? Most experts agree that no elementary school aged child should have or need a cell phone. As children grow to middle school and beyond their schedules change, and they may be in situations that necessitate a cell phone. Remeber that the phone is NOT just to communicate with you, but also for communicating with friends, strangers (through gaming and social networks), and perhaps bullying or being bullied. Afterall it is much easier to bully behind a cell phone than face to face like it had to be in my day.
So if you think your child is old enough to manage a cell phone it behooves you to teach him or her how to use it with respect for himself and others. Facebook requests that a child be over the age of 13 to join, but you can monitor your child on this site and you should. The same goes with snapchat and intstagram. Sit down and put all the privacy settings in correctly and do this on whatever computer your child uses as well. KNOW all your child's passwords and test him or her from time to time in front of you logging on. Demand that you always have access to your child's accounts. Always go in as a guest and snoop around. BE your child's friend on social media, follow him or have a trusted friend or relative do it for you. This should be part of the contract you have with your child when getting him a phone. It is yours afterall. You can also monitor what your child does with his phone using great applications like www.mymobilewatchdog.com. There are also settings through your cell carrier that can help you monitor cell usage (time of day, etc) and even shut off your child's phone at night for instance. Look at other internet safety websites for parents like www.fosi.org/good-digital-parenting/ to help you partner with you child to ensure his or her safety on line and beyond.
Make a good example of yourself. Show good technology etiquette. Don't text or update your status in the car, at family meals and not when your kids are talking to you anytime. Show them that putting down the device, making REAL LIFE social connections and conversations are more important than any snapchat, nstagram or facebook post. We need our kids to be safe on line, to feel good about their social interactions and to live in the hereand now.
Our kids lives and self esteem are at stake here. If we teach them proper behavior on line and they learn to treat themselves and others with respect and honor your rules then we create a kinder, gentler society with global self respect. A single wrong or naive move on line can be life threatening to children. Educate yourself on how to monitor kids online, to keep them private and importantly how to respect themselves enough to repsect others. We need more kindness and it starts at home.
Bullying has become one of society's biggest reasons for teen angst and suicide. I am interested to hear and understand your views, perceptions and experiences with bullying of any kind. I believe that the face of bullying has changed dramatically with social media. Text and messages and snapchat have lead to a whole host of issues especiallly relational aggression, feeling left out and alone. Plus it's SO easy to say something hurtful via text than face to face.. oh and then say "JK" just kidding. I have read a lot and feel that this topic is under discussed at schools and homes. Kids are often left feeling alone yet just a click away from a twitter feed, instagram or snapchat... they are feeling more left out than ever, more isolated and turning more to the internet than to their friends and family. We need to support our kids.. all of them..the weird, the loners, the geeks, athletes, social butterflies and the whole lot of KIDS that we love! Start the conversation early, teach your children inclusion, that being different is ok, that worshipping a different god or looking different is what makes us an amazing, diverse country. We need compassion, inclusiveness, and acceptance. Some good reads for parents are Rosalind Wiseman's Queen Bees and Wannabees ( the book that inspired the movie Mean Girls), Odd Girl out by Rachel Simmons, The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander: From Preschool to High School--How Parents and Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle by Barbara Coloroso,and the website www.ryanpatrickhalligan.org (a very sad story of real life bullying and its aftermath). I hope we can continue the conversation and really start to help our kids feel good about themselves and perhaps save a life.
Winter is here and so are cold viruses and the dreaded flu. Did you know that most school age children get 8 to 12 colds per year? Sadly immunizations except the Flu vaccine don't prevent the spread of common germs that cause cold type viruses. It is always a tough call to decide if your child is too sick for daycare or school, but following these tips can be helpful:
- Diarrhea that is preventing normal activities or contains blood or mucous
- Fever above 100 degrees fahrenheit
- Mouth sores
- vomiting 2 or more times in a 24 hour time frame (unless it is not due to an illness)
- contagious skin infections treated less than 24 hours on antibiotics
- Any illness that makes a child too tired and ill for regular school routines, or an illness that makes him or her irritable, not drink or have trouble breathing
A child is ready to return to school when none of the above are bothering him or her. We usually like children to be fever free for 24 hours before returning to school, but it this isn't a hard and fast rule as long as he or she can have a good day at school and none of the above criteria exist your child may be able to return to school.
How can you keep your child as healthy as possible? Firstly ensure that all of your child's immunizations are up to date and he or she receives a flu vaccine yearly as well. Ensure a healthy diet that includes fresh fruit (think vitamin C) and vegetables. Always make sure that your child knows to wash his or her hands prior to eating and after toileting as well as many other times during the day especially if outdoors, handling pets or garbage. Teach them to sing Happy Birthday as they are washing to be sure they are properly cleansing.
Kids get sick, but we can try to keep them as healthy as possible by hand washing, eating well, vaccinating and getting a good night sleep!
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